Friday, November 30, 2007

Talking to the Owl

I’ve had a morbid fascination with narcissism for about 4 years: How to recognize it. How to deal with it. How to laugh at it. Certainly narcissism has a dark side, but it also has a completely ridiculous side as well. One of my favorite narcissists is Nick Bottom in a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The scene where the director of a small theatrical troop (Quince) is introducing the play Pyramus and Thisbe is so insightful on how a narcissist approaches a project.

Quince: You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

Bottom: What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?

Quince: A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.

Bottom: That will ask some tears in the true performing of
it: if I do it, let the audience look to their
eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some
measure. To the rest: yet my chief humour is for a
tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to
tear a cat in, to make all split. (blah…blah…blah)

So here is the wonderful introduction of the “workaday narcissist” he must function with charm to gather the idolation he feeds on but his real desire is to be a tyrant (like Richard III).

As Quince presents the roles to the other actors, Bottom interjects at each one, claiming to be able to do it better and he really would rather any role but the one he has been given. I can’t help but extrapolate to the development arena and think of how Bottom would act if he were a developer and not an actor. Bottom would want to write everything by himself! Instead of leveraging frameworks and application servers, Bottom would build not just the framework, but the entire application server - from scratch! His massive applications will transform computing as we know it!

The really funny thing about a Midsummer Night’s dream is Bottom’s treatment by Titiana after he becomes an infantile ass, braying about oats in the arms of a beautiful fairie. It is a wonderful deconstruction of the bully that he was in a few scenes before.

There’s a lot of interesting psychological stuff on narcissism on the net, but Bottom is my character study. I can usually spend about 10 minutes talking to someone and if their grandiose ideas and subtle intimidations start to trigger a “HeeHAW” in the back of my mind, I know I’ve made aquantance with a narcissist, and I would do well to let them crawl back into the unimportant anonymity where they belong.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Whose Catastrophe?: The Narcissism of Nick Saban

by Carl Stoffers

We've all heard the quotes—Alabama head coach Nick Saban comparing his team's loss to Louisiana-Monroe to September 11th and Pearl Harbor, as well as to an alcoholic hitting "rock bottom."

As the university tries to do damage control, Saban has remained silent—perhaps because he has both feet inserted firmly in his mouth.

"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," Saban said after the loss. "It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event."

And Saban wasn't done yet.

"They talk about alcoholics and people like that who never ever change until they hit rock bottom," he continued. "Well, they change because when they hit rock bottom they have an awareness, they have an acceptance and a commitment to change. That's what our players need to do right now because the past two weeks since the LSU game, I haven't seen the same spirit, the same work ethic. That's something we have to get right."

The shocking thing about the comments isn't just Saban's insensitivity—it's his narcissism.

However Alabama tries to spin it, it's entirely clear that Saban was indeed comparing the loss to the disasters. And that speaks volumes as to what's going on inside the coach's head.

The loss to Louisiana-Monroe was a 9/11-type catastrophe for Saban. In his little world, losing a football game to an opponent he considers unworthy is on par with the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

If Saban had had a relative or friend who perished on 9/11, maybe he wouldn't feel as comfortable drawing comparisons between a mass murder and a football game.

Or maybe he'd have a better understanding of where a game stands in terms of life's priorities.

In any event, I'm not angry with Nick Saban—I feel sorry for him.

We all should.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Take the test ... (fun)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The narcissist boss - Symptoms

How to deal with your crazy boss

Fortune's Stanley Bing shares his take on the five types of crazy bosses, and some strategies for dealing with one, from "Crazy Bosses" (Harper Collins).

By Stanley Bing

* Default emotion: emptiness. Think of a vast, blank wall that can be temporarily sprayed with any available can of paint, the prevailing color being the one most recently employed.

* Incapable of viewing others as real creatures with needs discrete from his or her own, consequently has no problem using others for any purpose that furthers his or her desires, up to and including their destruction, for which he or she will feel no remorse. Remorse in general not a strong suit.

* Bipolar internal landscape, vacillates between delusions of grandeur, during which time he or she may be quite pleasant, even "happy," and abject depression brought about by feelings of inadequacy and unimportance. At such times, may appear paranoid or mutate into hard-to-handle bully. Prone to terrible rage or suicidal self-pity when this artificial cosmic construct (with his or her self at the center) is contradicted by ample evidence to the contrary.

* Bold and heedless in the face of danger; highly imaginative, given to flights of fancy fueled by lack of any instinct for self-doubt, during which any and all ideas will be perceived as brilliant, even inevitable, no matter how lame.

* Capable of great generosity and random acts of kindness, because they make him feel good about himself and justify his egocentric worldview.

* Zero attention span, concentration of a small child. Most used word: "I." Second most used word: "Me."

* Contagion factor: 34 (not enough oxygen in the room). Narcissists make for great viewing, but you rarely want to be one of them.

* Level of difficulty: 45. For those unwilling to suck up: 96.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How To Cope With A Narcissist

by Sam Vaknin

No one bears any responsibility whatsoever to the Narcissist’s predicament. For him, others hardly exist - so enmeshed he is in himself and in the resulting misery of this self-preoccupation. Others are hangers on which he hangs the clothes of wrath, of rage, of suppressed and mutating aggression and, finally, of ill disguised violence. How should the persons nearest and dearest to the Narcissist cope with his eccentric vagaries?

The short answer is by abandoning him or by threatening to abandon him. The threat to abandon need not be explicit or conditional ("If you don't do or if you do something - I will desert you"). It is sufficient to confront the Narcissist, to insist, to shout back. The Narcissist is tamed by the very same weapons that he employs to subjugate others. The specter of being abandoned looms large over everything else. Every discordant note assumes the monstrous proportions of solitude, abandonment, and the resulting confrontation with his Self. The Narcissist is a person who was irreparably traumatized by the behaviour of the most important adults in his life: his parents. By being capricious, arbitrary, sadistically judgmental - they molded him into an adult, who fervently and obsessively tries to recreate the trauma (repetition complex). Thus, on the one hand, the Narcissist feels that his liberation depends upon re-living these experiences. On the other hand, he is terrified by this prospect. Realizing that he is doomed to go through the same harrowing experience, the Narcissist distances himself from the scene of his own pending emotional catastrophe. He does this by using his aggression to alienate, to humiliate and in general, to be emotionally absent. This behaviour brings about the very consequences that the Narcissist so derides. This way, at least, the Narcissist can tell himself (and others) that HE was the one who controlled the events, that it was truly fully his choice. Of course, governed by his internal demons, the Narcissist has no choice to talk about.

The Narcissist is, therefore, a binary human being: the carrot is the stick in his case. If he gets too close to someone emotionally, he fears ultimate and inevitable abandonment. He, thus, distances himself, acts cruelly and brings about the very abandonment that he feared in the first place. In this paradox lies the key to coping with the Narcissist: If he has a rage attack - rage back. This will provoke in him fears of being abandoned and the resulting calm will be so total that it might seem unbelievable. Narcissists are known for these tectonic shifts in mood and in behaviour patterns.

Mirror the Narcissists actions and repeat his words. If he threatens - threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house - leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious - act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level - because that is where he permanently is. Faced with his mirror image - the Narcissist will always recoil.

We must not forget: the Narcissist does all these things to foster and encourage abandonment. Reflected at him, the Narcissist will see the imminent, impending abandonment, which is the inevitable result of his actions and words. This sight will so terrify him - that it will induce an incredible alteration of his behaviour. He will instantly succumb and try to make amends, moving from one (cold and bitter, cynical and misanthropic, cruel and sadistic) pole to another (warm, even loving, the sort of fuzzy, engulfing emotion that we feel on a particularly good or successful day).

The other way is to abandon him and go about reconstructing your life. Very few people deserve the kind of investment that is an absolute prerequisite to living with a Narcissist. To cope with a Narcissist is a full time, energy and emotion-draining job, which reduces the persons around the Narcissist to insecure nervous wrecks. Who deserves such a sacrifice?

No one, to my mind, not even the most brilliant, charming, breathtaking, suave Narcissist. The glamour and trickery wear thin and underneath them a monster lurks which sucks the affect, distorts the cognition and irreversibly influences the lives of those around it to the worse.

Others delineate a more sweeping dichotomous strategy. Both philosophically and pragmatically, we cannot and should not assume responsibility for other people and their lives. Narcissists are incorrigibly and notoriously difficult to change. Trying to change them is a wrong strategy. The two viable strategies are either accepting them as they are or avoiding them altogether. If one accepts a narcissist as he is - one should cater to his needs. His needs are part of what he is. Would you have ignored a physical handicap? Would you not have assisted a quadriplegic? The Narcissist is an emotional invalid. He needs constant adulation. He cannot help it. So, if one chooses to accept him - it is a package deal, all his needs included.

Also, narcissists cannot love. If you love only in order to be loved back - this is narcissistic love. Loving someone is not dependent upon emotional reciprocity. If your child stopped loving you - you do not stop loving him. You simply cannot NOT love him. The same applies to narcissists. They are incapable of loving. Does this render you incapable of loving them? If your answer is positive, then how different from them are you really?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Narcissistic Projection

Hypocrites are for looks only. They think a thing ain't wrong if they get away with it. In other words, they confuse appearances with reality. Consequently, they have no conscience — just an unconscience. That is, they repress their conscience. Hence, what they do in the dark is shockingly different than what they do in the light of day.

These are the people who put make-up on their image too thick in spots — right where the blemishes in their character are. Since it's all about their image, as Hamlet's mother said, they view sin as some kind of taint instead of as moral illness, or spiritual dis-ease. This is what gives them the notion that it can be "washed away" or smeared off. No wonder that, to get rid of it, they project instead of repent.

So, narcissists are by no means alone in accusing others so as to project their own flaws off onto a scapegoat. It's just that they invest so much energy in doing it. They are fixated on their image to the point that it is uppermost in their mind 100% of the time. It's impossible to overemphasize that.

In contrast, normal people project only when on the defensive. And then they're likely to shake themselves off on whoever happens to be near at the moment. So, their aim is poor, and sometimes they project a flaw off onto someone who actually has it. But a narcissist's aim is impeccable. For example, whom does he call a liar? The most honest person around. Who does he say is dangerous? The savior of the group. Every single time. His talent for farce is so great that you could mistake him for astute.

Also, normal people have normal, human and loving relationships. So they don't smear themselves off on just anyone. They wouldn't dream of harming those near and dear. And they stick to slander (which has at least some degree of truth in it), rarely engaging in calumny (lies). When they do calumniate someone, he or she is an enemy. Even then they don't go hog-wild and calumniate someone so badly and so widely as to destroy them and ruin their lives.

Not so with the narcissist. He is a mental child with no sense of measure or moderation. So, he is more dangerous with his mouth than an angry five-year-old is with an AK-47. He will say anything — ANYTHING — about you as lightly as one would brush a crumb from his sleeve. He loves only himself. He has no normal human relationships. He relates to people as objects. So he will smear himself off on his own children as thoughtlessly as we smear ourselves off on a towel.

In fact, he is most likely to smear off on someone he owes gratitude, because needing help damages his image. So he repays help as though it were an insult. He must devalue it by devaluing the giver of it, as if such a contemptible person is incapable of really helping someone as grand as he.

Since he is a mental little child, the only reign on a narcissist's behavior is what he feels he can get away with. So, the more he gets away with, the more repressed guilt he has to purge himself of.

It's a vicious cycle that he plays the hampster in all his life.

Kathleen Krajco

Friday, November 23, 2007

Enough about you: My explanation of narcissism

Every year at Christmas my mother would buy me an expensive piece of clothing that I would never wear. Or, if luck was smiling on me, it might be several pieces of clothing meant to be worn together. I describe the clothing as “expensive” because when my mother gave me these gifts she would make a point of telling me how much everything cost, and how much effort she had expended. Unfortunately, every year, she would miss the mark of predicting my taste by such a wide margin that I thought she might know an alternate universe version of me who dressed in ethnic print skirts with gathered waists and blouses with Peter Pan collars festooned with appliqué ducks holding umbrellas. I began to dread getting these gifts because from December 26 on they hung in my closet unworn, causing me shame for having selfishly squandered my mother’s time and money.

Then one year, as our annual holiday gloom rituals were kicking in, the light went on. At age 35 I had finally conceived of a brilliant solution: I suggested that she and I go out shopping for my gift together. And I was truly thrilled when she agreed. I knew just what I wanted: A black, fitted blazer that I could wear with everything. Not only would it be stylish and versatile, it would herald the end to my guilt about unworn presents. On the appointed day, my mother and I walked around crowded department stores for hours on end as she waved hangers full of ethnic print skirts with gathered waists and blouses with Peter Pan collars at me in a flag-like manner, reminiscent of Napoleon on the bridge of Arcola. Not wanting to be the one to fire the first shot, I made sure to say, “Yes, that’s really lovely.” Or, “Wow! Great choice!!” in reaction to each new outfit she displayed. But I held firm. After the third time I said, “I could really use a new black blazer,” my mother made a grim face as only my mother could make, an expression lifted from a George Romero movie. She let loose with her patented lip curling “Yicccch,”, insisting that I at least try on the clothes she picked out. Respectfully, I played along, thinking to myself as I looked in the dressing room mirror, “If my goal was to look 15 years older and 30 pounds heavier, this is definitely the outfit I would buy.” At the end of the day, when closing time was requiring us to wrap this party up, I said, “Mom, as much as I love all those things you showed me, you know what? I really need this black blazer. I can wear it to work, for casual stuff, over pajamas—it’s a bull’s eye on every front,” She sighed, rolled her eyes, and exhaled an exasperated gust of air that caused all the clothing on all the racks in the Women’s Sportswear Department to sway. Then she muttered bitterly, as she handed over her Visa to the cashier, “This is the last time I am doing anything like this. I get no pleasure from buying you something I don’t happen to like.” As I followed her out of the store, carrying my “present” in a garment bag, she shook her head silently and pursed her lips. She could barely look at me.

I was shocked. Somehow I had gone and done it again: ruined Christmas for my mother. This incident puzzled me endlessly. How had I miscalculated so badly? Here I had thought I was not only saving my mother time and money, but I was ensuring her future happiness by being able to show up for family functions wearing a present she bought for me.

This was just one of many bafflingly similar incidents that cluttered my life for many years. By then I had begun to notice that my parents and boyfriends seemed to have the same complaints about me. I was “combative and contrarian,” according to one boyfriend who would become furious if I stayed up to watch a late movie by myself instead of going to bed at the same time he did. Other paramours would accuse me of caring about no one but myself, of always insisting on having things my own way.

This certainly didn’t sound like what was going on from my perspective, but because these complaints were coming from people I cared about in two separate arenas of my life, I figured I had better make a sincere and concerted effort to identify and repair my shortcomings. It seemed to behoove me to learn how to stop endangering my relationships with inflammatory behavior such as having my own taste in clothing and picking my own bed time.

So, I signed up for therapy hoping to discover what steps I needed to take to remedy the situation. But what I learned was not what I expected. I learned that I was the child of two law-abiding, middle-class narcissists, a man and a woman bound together by their twin passions of criticizing their offspring and picking fights in restaurants. And because of this legacy, I was also attracted to narcissists as lovers and friends.

I finally had a reasonable explanation for why my brother and I always seemed to be wearing and doing and saying the wrong thing whenever we attended family gatherings, even when we armed with perky outfits, tidy haircuts, and carefully selected topics of conversation. At last I had insight in to what was behind three decades of embarrassing restaurant incidents in which my parents behaved like aristocracy and treated the stammering wait staff with utter contempt. I can only marvel now at how well I survived the number of dinners I probably consumed in my youth that were drenched in the spit of revenge seeking restaurant employees.

What is a narcissist? Any time you find yourself living inside that classic New Yorker cartoon in which two people are dining together and one says to the other, “Well, enough about me. Let’s hear what you have to say about me,” your narcissism alert bells should be ringing. A friend of mine explained the credo of the narcissist as follows: “I’m the piece of shit the world revolves around.”

Narcissists are people who cover up feelings of shame and worthlessness inflicted during their own screwy childhoods by doing whatever it takes to maintain a false sense that they are very special and therefore not bound by ordinary rules. This requires them to surround themselves with people who will constantly pump them up by agreeing with them about everything. In narcissism talk this is called “feeding their grandiosity.”

Here is the short explanation for why they act like this: Narcissists essentially live in a world that is one person big because they never fully outgrow a phase of infantile behavioral development in which baby thinks he and Mommy are the same person. Therefore, when a brilliant, charming, elegant and grand narcissist honors you by allowing you entry into his or her very elite cadre, it is kind of like being annexed by an imperialist country. Your borders have now been erased. The subtext of all future interactions will be: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine. Welcome to a world where there is no you!” When you are with a narcissist, their needs must become your needs. It’s not enough for a narcissist to be the center of his own world, he must also be the center of yours. Your job is to serve as admiring audience or vent for his anger, Fan Club President or Incompetent Maid. If you are not mirroring him or praising him, you are proving you are a separate person and thus a threat.

Once I understood this, I could finally solve The Mysterious Case of My Mother and The Christmas Present. My mother became peevish and aggressive about my desire to select my own present, because I was not paying homage to her excellent taste in clothes. Buying a present for me, in her mind, was not about getting me something I might like but about pumping up her own self-esteem. In her rigid and fragile world view, when I demonstrated that I had my own ideas about what was best for me, I had humiliated her.

At first, having my new knowledge was a mixed blessing. People I once regarded simply as family and friends were transformed before my eyes into strangely predictable robots whose limitations would always be greater than their capabilities. It was freeing to know that my behavior wasn’t causing the narcissism outbreak, no matter how much they like to assign blame. But it was certainly not good news to learn I had to give up on any of these people ever behaving with any real degree of empathy or interest in me.

As any book on this subject explains (in CAPS, italics, and underlined with bold exclamation marks!!!), the only method for coping with narcissists is to change your expectations. Maintain emotional distance. Stop trying to please un-pleasable people.

That was the sad part of it all. Because the death of expectations also meant the death of hope. Gone forever was the dream that by treating my mother with kid gloves, or even talking honestly, I was going to transform her in to someone more enlightened. Instead I had to face the depressing fact that to interact unguardedly with her (or any narcissist) was to set myself up as a sounding board in one-sided conversations that could easily morph in to petty personal attacks.

From that point on when she provoked me, I didn’t bite. My mother could sense that a certain familiar degree of push and pull in the dance between us had been modified. She knew things were different, that I was more aloof. And it confused her. But it would have done no good to explain any of it. There was nothing I could do or say to make things any better. By the end of her life, I was tip-toeing around her trying not to get into fights- or getting into fights but knowing what the outcome would be.

The good news is that learning about narcissism has protected me from wasting a lot of energy. Now when I find myself unexpectedly under attack and thinking “How did I get in to the middle of this stupid fight when I’m not even angry.”, the new smarter me knows that the answer is not to look within and figure out what I did wrong. The answer comes from without: I am probably hanging out with a narcissist.

And once that piece is in place, I also know I have only two sane options: Either agree with everything they say, or pick up and go elsewhere. To stay and fight is to confront an irrational, wounded animal. Knowing how all this works also helps me when I find myself being magnetized by the considerable charisma of some factory-fresh narcissist seeking my worshipful love. I rely on my sonar-like, early-warning detection abilities, fine tuned from years of static and misread signals.

I still think back proudly to a flirtation at a party with a guy who set off all my alarm bells: sad-eyed, brooding, artistic, articulate, hilarious and utterly self-absorbed. I knew instinctively to draw him out of his shell by asking many flattering questions, then listening to his answers with rapt attention and appreciation bordering on awe. I knew that if I greeted his every anecdote with extreme empathy and selfless offers of support, he would be mine. But despite the fact that every microbe in my body begged to do these things,(old habits die hard), I watched myself with amazement as the voice coming out of my face said instead, “Well, you seem like a smart guy. I’m sure you’ll figure it all out.” And then instead of allowing myself to get sucked in to his turmoil, I turned and went off to talk to someone else.

I’m happy to report that these days I no longer have to defend my opinions on trivial matters, such as what lightbulb to buy, or apologize for things that make no sense. It’s a relief not to feel guilty for failing to read a persoon’s mind or fan the flames of someone whether or not I think he has any flames to fan. In short, I’m not being batted like a cat toy by narcissists anymore. And in a way that is the greatest life lesson I received from my mother.

Merrill Markoe

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How does narcissism occur in the workplace?

What links patrimonial bureaucracy and totalitarian organizations? The answer is narcissism. Narcissism includes the narcissists and their codependents (or enablers/followers). Patrimonial bureaucracy occurs when employees become personally loyal to their superiors in such a way as to always feel the need to seek their approval before acting.

Corporate narcissism is spreading with epidemic proportions throughout the business world.

Narcissists foster this type of behaviour in their subordinates, and peers if possible, who become codependents. It works well for the narcissist's self-esteem, but not so well for the business. Narcissism in the workplace results in poor judgements that turn into costly decisions,Ref ultimately resulting in negative long-term outcomes. As patrimonial bureaucracy spreads throughout the business, it becomes a totalitarian organization.

Corporate narcissism occurs when a narcissist becomes the leader (CEO) or a member of the senior management team and gathers an adequate mix of codependents around him (or her) to support his narcissistic behavior. This leads almost inevitably to a deterioration in the organization's performance. Narcissists profess company loyalty but are only really committed to their own agendas, thus organization decisions are founded on the narcissists' own interests rather than the interests of the organization as a whole, the various stakeholders, or the environment in which the organization operates.

Narcissism relates back to Greek mythology; Narcissus was a handsome young boy who fell in love with his own reflection, then died of starvation by confusing that reflection with his true self. Thus narcissists are addicted to their own image, constantly manipulating others to validate that image, and endlessly searching for attainment of an idealized self, which of course, cannot be achieved. In other words, narcissists rely on manipulating work and social relationships to support a self that cannot internally sustain a sense of well being.

But the narcissist can't succeed without codependents. If the narcissistic personality trait is to be activated, then the narcissist needs to be exposed to trait-relevant situational cues. Codependents, who do whatever the narcissist needs, sometimes working beyond healthy (and sometimes ethical) limits, supply these cues. Narcissists and codependents/enablers are attracted to each other because narcissists crave power and codependents crave security.

A narcissist can be described in terms of a bipolar self that has two poles or dimensions. In early life, one pole involves an immature grandiosity or a confident self-superiority that can develop into adult forms of ambitiousness. The other pole is associated with tendencies to idealize or admire the superiorities of others, and those tendencies can mature into an internalized system of ideals. A narcissistic personality disorder represents an arrest in the development of healthy self-esteem.

Parental nurturance, or good parenting (see 'What causes narcissism?') is therefore critical in the transformation of normal narcissistic traits into mature ambitions and ideals; and parental nurturance predicts healthy self-esteem. It isn't surprising, therefore, that when you look into the parental relationships of narcissists and codependents, you find problems. Typically both narcissists and codependents come from dysfunctional families.

If you identify someone in your workplace who you think has narcissistic characteristics, check their behavior against 'How to recognize a narcissist', and look for their codependents, those do the narcissist's bidding and seek their approval before acting.

David Thomas PhD @

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When He's Only Into Himself ...: A Memoir & Guide to Understanding a Narcissist

by Ella Scott

ISBN-10: 1434319954
ISBN-13: 978-1434319951

Book Description

Awareness of the pernicious epidemy of pathological narcissism has been steadily growing over the last decade and has resulted in a prodigious and copious output of self-help guides,textbooks,and personal memories. Still,in all this cornucopia,it is difficult to find something akin to Ella's work:part textbook,part self-help tome,part personal and painful memoir. Narcissists are an elusive breed. They are shape-shifters and the nature of the disorder renders them alien,a sub-species of cunning artificial intelligence. Their ability to mimic human emotions is unsuprpassed,their charm sometimes irresistible,and their thespian skills unequalled. Narcissists defy,therefore,well-intentioned compilations of warning signs and batteries of psychological diagnostic tests. There is scarcely anything more painful than self-delusion. The narcissist is a cardboard cutout,the mere projection of a false self,unable to love,empathize,get intimate,or commit. Loving the narcissist is an exercise in protracted futility that invariably ends in heartbreak. What you see is never what you get. The narcissist is a drug addict. His psychological survival as a coherent,functional whole depends on the attention he garners(often,coerces)from others. He is a singleminded,single-purpose automaton. Behind the elaborate facade of these Potemkin humans lurks the void. The only way to effectively defend against a narcissist is to learn from the harrowing experiences of those who fell prey to the narcissist's advances and were subsequently victimized by him(or,more rarely,her).The emerging genre of victim lit is seriously enhanced by Ella's contribution. She has gone to great lengths to acquaint herself with the latest scholarly literature and to scrutinize her own encounters with narcissists with brutal honesty. The result is a compelling narrative:the detailed anatomy of two failed relationships with narcissistic men sagely set in the framework of the most current knowledge about the disorder. Makes for a riveting tour de force of the tortured landscapes of the la-la lands of malignant self-love. SamVaknin,author of "Malignant Self-love-Narcissism Revisited"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Narcissistic Lovers : How to Cope, Recover and Move On

by Cynthia Zayn, Kevin Dibble

ISBN-10: 0882822837
ISBN-13: 978-0882822839

Book Description

In a revealing study of relationships where partners love themselves first, last, and always, Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble help readers determine whether their partner is over the line and has narcissistic personality disorder. The book draws on the authors' research research and interviews with a variety of men and women who've been narcissized. Featuring compelling stories and scenarios, Lovers Who Love Themselves helps victims understand the pain brought on by their abusers, shows why these self-loathers can't change, and offer hope for healing from their "N-fliction."


Very informative and easy to read!
maxy, victim of several narcissists, obvi, 09/26/2007

I have always wondered why certain people behaved in particular ways and this book helped me realize the possibility of narcissistic personality disorder. There are way too many coincidences and uncanny similarities for it not to have some possibility. This book has helped me to understand why certain things happened. I LOVED the whole 'gaslighting' chapter! What an awesome revelation! There are some typos in the book but it is so easy to understand and very informational. The authors seem to really get it and care. I highly recommend this book.

A must read!!
Sophie, A reviewer, 09/26/2007

This book is an easy read and so informative! Like other books on Narcissistic Personality it informs the reader of the disorder...but it explains things on a personal level without all of the clinical explanations. It is a very eye-opening book that informs and encourages. Totally worth your money and time!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Pandemic of Narcissism?

I have just been reading an essay titled "The Pandemic of Narcissism" by Paul Toscano from his book The Sanctity of Dissent. It was originally a speech he made at the annual Honors Program Banquet at BYU in 1979. He makes an interesting point that narcissism breeds sentimentality in an effort to avoid genuine love and emotion.

The issue of sentimentality in the church has fascinated me for quite some time. How does one recognize it? Is one's sentimentality another one's true emotion? What's so bad about being sentimental anyhow? In Toscano's essay he makes some well made points. I usually don't like to make long quotations, but I thought it would be important for discussion.

"Another narcissistic symptom in Mormonism is sentimentality. As G.K. Chesterton observed seventy years ago, when truth quits the field, sentimentality, not error, takes over. Sentimentality was defined by Hugh Nibley as a 'tenacious clinging to pleasantries.' It is a state of mental torpor characterized by a craving for meaningless but pleasant stories and sayings. It is a craving for emotional experiences without regard to their source, their truth, or their value. The best example I can give of this is a short movie marketed by BYU called "The Sacrifice." The storyline is this: A little boy is hit by a train while walking over a trestle to be with his father, the switchman. The conflict in the story comes when the father must decide whether to let go of the switch and save his little son at the cost of the passenger train or whether to sacrifice his son and save the train. He decides to save the train. At the end of the movie, a caption overlays the closing scene, proclaiming, 'And God so loved . . . ' Obviously, the film is intended as an atonement analogy. Although well-intentioned (and sentimentality is well-intentioned), it succeeds only in being maudlin. It tugs as the heart-strings but does not edify the spirit. Why? Because the analogy is false. Jesus in not a mindless or disobedient child who wandered onto the train trestle of the universe to be accidentally flattened by a blind, indifferent cosmos. God the Father was not a powerless technocrat caught in the press of circumstances beyond his control. The relationship between them was not that of an infant son and a youthful father. The emotions the movie calls forth are nothing like the emotions the real participants felt, as reported by those who knew them best. It is false from top to bottom. Its net effect is to take our attention off truth and fix it upon our own emotions. It seeks only to induce a pleasant sense of spiritual euphoria - the kind of feeling we get when we hear about poor people being helped in far away places, but not like the feeling we get when we actually go to far away places to help the poor. The movie does nothing to further anyone's understanding of the nature of the Father and the Son, or of the Atonement, or of the love of God, or of anything that is spiritually significant."

His analysis of the movie seems solid. Reminds me of other popular stories used to explain the Atonement, primarily the parable of the bicycle by Stephen Robinson. I never really like that story, and never recounted it to anyone. But for a time in the early to mid-90s, that story spread like wildfire across church pulpits. Does that story hold up? or is that also sentimental hogwash?

I think the trap one can face in recognizing narcissistic sentimentality is that you could be viewed as a cynic, who likes to tear down people's beliefs. So where does one go from here? If sentimentality serves one's own emotions, at the avoidance of true spiritual understanding and sacrifice, how do we go about changing it, without offending the person we may be trying to reach? I guess the best answer is to change ourselves, since of course we can't change anyone else. (To think that we can change someone else would be narcissistic.)

What do you all think? Is there a pandemic of narcissism in the church? Has sentimentality overtaken doctrine and genuine charity? Can the tide be reversed?

From: This Mormon Life

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Civilization vs. barbarism

An extract from:

Civilization vs. barbarism: An analysis of the terrorist bombings of London

Fred Hutchison

Read full article here:

Disappointed narcissism

Narcissism is a term derived from the Greek God Narcissus who fell in love with his own image in the water. Narcissism is inordinate self-love. Let us assume that the dog in the manger is a disappointed narcissist and is bitter about his inability to eat the corn. As a narcissist, the dog regards his inability to eat the corn as all-important. Whether or not the cattle eat is inconsequential to the dog except as it relates to his inability to eat. The narcissistic dog regards himself as the only being of value and all others as non-entities. Therefore, the dog might resent seeing the cattle non-entities eat when he, as the all-important one, cannot eat. He uses his fangs in malicious spite to refuse to allow the cattle to eat.

If the narcissistic dog in the manger is a correct metaphor for the malice of the terror bomber, it implies that disappointed narcissism can simultaneously lead to both the hate and despair of the terrorist.

The roots of the fallen nature

The fall of man, as described in the book of Genesis, brought into being the essential core of the sin nature we have all inherited. In my book The Stages of Sanctification, I discover three cardinal principles of the fallen nature based upon a study of Genesis and other scriptures. The three cardinal or primeval sins of Adam that have passed to every man are Pride, Inordinate Self-love, and Disobedience. With the aid of Bill Gothard's teachings, I found that these deep taproot sins give rise to three "second tier sins," or "sins of the world": Worldly Values, Moral Impurity, and Bitterness. The Apostle John warns us that the second-tier of sin comprises the corruption of the world.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (moral impurity), the lust of the eyes(covetousness and bitterness), and the pride of life (worldly values) is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2: 16) The three worldly sins directly grow out of the three primeval sins of the fallen nature.

Antisocial and suicidal narcissism

Narcissists are essentially antisocial because they resent any distraction from themselves. A homosexual narcissist riding in the seat behind me on the airplane during my recent home from England spoke loudly and incessantly in eccentric tones, so that no one could think about anything but her (or was it a he?). Her/his obnoxious sociability was anti-social in spirit because he/she destroyed the possibility of social communion among the other travelers. It was a dog-in-the manger trick. "If I cannot be the center of the social interaction, no one else will be allowed to communicate." I have learned by experience that if you ask such a person to quiet down, they are likely to fly into a rage. The dog in the manger snarls. The garrulous, narcissistic quasi-lesbian on the plane had the kind of antisocial spirit that is first cousin to those who commit violence out of spite. Indeed, the rates of gay-on-gay violence is extraordinarily high.

Can a narcissist be suicidal? Yes. The rates of gay suicide are also very high. The disappointed dreams of narcissistic glory easily lead to bitterness, bitterness leads to self-pity, and self-pity leads to despair. Every small child must experiment with threats of narcissistic suicide. "If I can't have my way, I shall hold my breath and die. Then you'll be sorry!" Narcissism is antisocial, violent, and suicidal and deals in emotional blackmail. The adult version deals in manipulation of friends and extortion of enemies. Terror attacks are an exotic political form of extortion.

Violent narcissistic cults

The two teen-age boys at Columbine High School who shot their classmates were narcissists devoted to murder and suicide. Narcissistic children hate the society of their peers, because it distracts from their self-absorption. They can tolerate social discourse only if they are the center of attention. Children on the playground dislike the anti-social narcissists and torment them. Small groups of narcissists sometimes band together, form paranoid conspiracy theories about their playground enemies, and plan their revenge. The two teenage boys who killed twelve fellow students, a teacher, and themselves were filled with hatred against the other teens and against the world. We cannot know if the boys would have had pangs of conscience if they had lived, but a fully developed narcissism can transform itself into a heartless sociopathy. A sociopathic murderer might feel no more pangs of conscience than one would feel about stepping on bugs. The extinction of "non-entities" does not trouble their sleep.

The teenage narcissists at Columbine formed a two-boy death cult for their vendetta. The terror bombers of London were nourished on conspiracy theories and an ideology of hatred of England and the West and joined small terror cults.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Generation Me" again...

"Generation Me" Author Visits Macon
November 15, 2007
By Eric Lee

Children born during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s are called "Generation Me."

Dr. Jean Twenge traveled Wesleyan College from San Diego to discuss her book. The topic is young people today who are more confident and ambitious - yet more anxious, depressed, and lonely. Twenge's findings are based on research from one point three million respondents over six decades. The Internet has changed young people's behavior tremendously.

We asked Twenge how networking sites, including Myspace and Facebook have that affected this generation? "That can be a problem, especially kids who are a little introverted and a little shy already," said Twenge. They'll also use the Internet as a replacement for a social life. And that's hard because humans thrive on face to face interaction. And if you just have the Internet interaction, it's just like eating french fries all the time instead of a good diet. You need the nutrition of the face to face interaction."

Twenge says that networking sites can promote narcissism. "Many young people seek attention on Internet sites like Youtube and Myspace for doing things that aren't really good like they'll take lots of pictures of themselves not wearing very much or they'll take pictures of themselves at a party drinking alcohol when they're underage. Or even worse, they'll beat up a kid at school, tape it, and put it on Youtube."

Twenge even suggests that parents praising their children excessively can be problematic. "I see some good signs and bad signs. The bad signs I see are the number of clothing for little girls that says "Little Princess" on it. Or I saw the other day in the grocery store a "bling" brand pacifier so you're a newborn and can't leave home without your bling."

While at Wesleyan, Twenge spoke to several classes, including a Freshman Seminary class that helps students transition from high school to college, and had a presentation tonight for the public. Next week Jami G. explores other aspects of the book with Twenge. Twenge says Internet friendships shouldn't be a substitute for real friendships. "Generation Me" is available in bookstores.

Police: 'Most Perverted' Man Forced Boys Into Sex Games

Suburban Man Abused At Least 9 Children, Police Say

VERNON HILLS, Ill. -- A suburban man is charged with running a molestation club in his Vernon Hills condominium and police call him one of the most perverted sex offenders they've seen.

Police said Michael Rebecca, 50, molested at least 9 boys over a four-year period and organized the boys, ages 11 to 17, into a bizarre club.

Authorities say the man is "one of the most narcissistic, manipulative, perverted individuals" they've encountered.

Rebecca, they said, set up sex games in his apartment and rewarded the boys with iPods and video games.

He worked for one of the victims' parents at Walgreens, police said.

Rebecca has no prior record but was ordered held without bond Monday night, charged with criminal sexual assault.

Police said they believe there are more victims, but considering the charges against him, Rebecca could be imprisoned for life if found guilty.

Copyright 2007 by

Friday, November 16, 2007

Narcissistic States and the Therapeutic Process

by Sheldon Bach

ISBN-10: 0876683049
ISBN-13: 978-0876683040

Book Description:

Bach brings together here, his experience of narcissistic patients and that of the therapist who treats them, to provide a detailed presentation of narcissistic states and appropriate treatment for them. Avoiding theoretical language, he maintains emphasis on clinical matters and techniques.

Narcissistic Wounds: Clincal Perspectives

by Judy Cooper & Nilda Maxwell

ISBN-10: 189763577X
ISBN-13: 978-1897635773


The core elements of narcissism concern the dificulty individuals encounter with the separating process and their use of the mechanism of splitting. Through the work of American thinkers (such as Kernberg and Kohut) on the advancement of the understanding of narcissistic disturbances is well known, the contribution of the British school has had a comparatively low profile. This book seeks to redress the balance by providing an up-to-date presentation of the work in this area of British psychotherapists and psychoanalysts of different theoretical orientations - contemporary Freudian, Kleinian and independent.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"... many killers are extremely narcissistic and only think about themselves.”

Entwistle hinted at suicide in somber note

Experts doubt his intent

In a dark and bizarre note to his lawyers revealed to the Herald, accused double murderer Neil Entwistle worries that his body “would be made an example of” if shipped back to his native England and asks to be cremated when he dies.

While the letter does not directly mention suicide or the horrific crime, it strikes a gruesome tone.

“One day my mood was fine. Then it started to darken,” wrote Entwistle, whose arrest in England in February 2006 for the slayings of his wife Rachel, 27, and their baby girl, Lillian Rose, in Hopkinton made worldwide headlines.

The letter was found in Entwistle’s cell at the Middlesex jail last year, along with another one he penned to his parents, prompting officials to hospitalize him for three weeks. Two sources provided the Herald with the verbatim contents of the letter addressed to lawyers Elliot Weinstein and Stephanie Page.

Yesterday, Entwistle’s lawyers, in Middlesex Superior Court for a pretrial hearing with their client, refused to discuss the missive. But in the newly revealed note, Entwistle expresses a macabre wish to have his “ashes scattered on Rachel and Lillian’s grave.”

“Other than this, I do not care. It will cause too much fanfare if my body is sent back to the U.K. I do not want my body to be made an example of!”

Criminal psychologist John Kelly, who is the president of S.T.A.L.K Inc. - a team of professional profilers based in New Jersey - theorized the letter shows not a true suicide risk but a strategic manipulator trying to get attention to feed his narcissistic ego.

“It’s interesting that he pleaded not guilty, but nowhere in the letter does he say he’s not guilty. There is no, ‘I’m innocent.’ No ‘I’m sorry.’ No remorse. He is someone who thinks the world revolves around him,” Kelly said.

“The vast, vast majority of people who suffer from narcissism are not murderers” Kelly added. “But many, many killers are extremely narcissistic and only think about themselves.”

Northeastern University criminologist James Fox said the letter suggests Entwistle had no real intention of killing himself, but he was looking out for his own best interests, including a push to be moved to a hospital rather than a cell.

“It’s much too analytical to be a suicide note for someone who is truly depressed. It’s the ramblings of a selfish guy who doesn’t want to be in prison anymore,” Fox said.

Entwistle is charged with killing his wife and their baby on Jan. 20, 2006, as the mother and daughter slept nestled next to each other in the family’s bed at their rented Hopkinton home. Entwistle has denied any involvement with the murders, but has been held without bail since returning to the United States after fleeing to England.

Yesterday in court, Weinstein argued that he is grappling with some 9,000 documents in the case and asked for more time to prepare for the January trial.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Diane Kottmyer denied the attorney’s request, saying Weinstein has had ample time to prepare.

Rachel’s mother and stepfather were in court yesterday, but Entwistle, looking pale, puffy and bloated in a rumpled suit, did not look at his former in-laws.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Narcissism - Jeremy Holmes

Ovid's version of the Narcissus myth

Many contemporary ideas about narcissism can be found in embryonic form in the classical Narcissus myth which gave its name to the syndrome. Here I follow Ted Hughes' (1997) powerful translation of the Ovid version.

The story starts not with Narcissus but with Tiresias, the only person to have lived both as male and female, and whom Jove and Juno therefore called in to adjudicate in their dispute as to who derived the greater pleasure from the act of sex, man or woman. Tiresias' vote was for women (although in some versions he diplomatically replies that while women experience ten times the intensity of pleasure, men experience it ten times more often!). Juno, inexplicably angry, strikes him blind, while to compensate, Jove opens his inner eye and gives him the gift of prophesy.

Thus Ovid reveals the narcissistic themes of bodily pleasure, envy, and the difficulty in knowing how another truly feels, especially when one is oneself consumed with desire.

Narcissus was the product of his mother Liriope's rape by the river God Cephisus. Narcissus was outstandingly beautiful from birth, so much so that envious gossips came to Tiresias questioning whether a creature so beautiful could live for long. Here the profound theme of the transience of beauty, and therefore of the link between narcissism, envy and death is introduced.

Tiresias answers enigmatically: he can live long, 'unless he learns to know himself The paradox turns on the fatal word unless. The terrible dilemma of the narcissist is thus elegantly summarised. Either the narcissist remains trapped for ever in the shadow world of self-love, or he is released from the bondage of self-unknowing (and by implication being unable to know others), but on price of death. Although the narcissist thinks only of himself, ironically he can never really know himself, since he cannot take a position outside himself and see himself as he really is. If he could accept that beauty fades then his loveliness would be something to celebrate; by grandiosely denying the reality of loss and change, beauty is transformed into monstrosity.

Narcissus grows into a beautiful young man. Many fall in love with him, but he keeps his distance. Then the wood-nymph Echo sees him and is immediately stricken. Previously a chatter-box, she has lost her power of speech as punishment when Juno realised that she was being used as a decoy by Jove to engage her in conversation while he was chasing women. All she can do is to repeat the words she has just heard. How is she to declare her love? One day Narcissus is lost in woods and calls out to his friends: "come to me". Echo reveals herself: "to me" "to me", she calls. Narcissus turns and runs: "I would rather be dead than let you touch me". Echo is mortified, and slowly dies of lost love, until all that is left is her voice.

Narcissists heartlessly break hearts. They cannot see the impact of their actions on others. They attract flatterers and fawners, echoes all, themselves narcissistically traumatized, hoping for reflected glory. Echo's 'God-mother' (Juno) is so envious of her relationship with her 'God-father' (Jove) that she blights the father-daughter relationship so essential to healthy female narcissism (the adolescent daughter who knows that her father sees her as beautiful, and who is at the same time utterly respectful of her sexuality).

Echo, the hypervigilant becomes the mirror image of the oblivious Narcissus. He is untouchable; she eternally longs to be in his arms. He thinks only of himself and is ruthlessly selfish; she can only think of him and her self-esteem is fragile even unto her death. He cannot identify with others and so make their voices his own and thereby enlarge the range of his personality; she has no voice of her own, and is condemned to pale imitation. In attachment terms, both are anxiously attached: she clings insufferably to her object, he for ever keeps his at a distance.

Many others fall unrequitedly in love with Narcissus. Eventually one, in a crucial therapeutic move, has the courage to confront his tormentor (It is a 'his' - there is a suggestion of bisexuality throughout the myth, typical of some narcissists who in their grandiosity cannot be content with the love of only one sex):

'Let Narcissus love and suffer
As he has made us suffer
Let him, like us, love and know it is hopeless...'

One day, thirsty from hunting, Narcissus finds a `pool of perfect water' and there, as he stretches out to drink,

'A strange new thirst, a craving, unfamiliar,
Entered his body with the water,
And entered his eyes
With the reflection in the limpid mirror. . .
As the taste of water flooded him
So did love.'

He falls deeply in love with his own image. But the harder he tried to embrace himself, to kiss the lips that `seemed to be rising to kiss his' the more frustrated and lovesick he becomes. He bemoans his fate. Eternally separated from his love object, he experiences loss and grief for the first time. At last he comes to know himself:

'You are me. Now I see that....
But it is too late.
I am in love with myself...
This is new kind of lover' prayer
To wish himself apart from the one he loves'.

He realises that he must die: 'I am a cut flower' Let death come quickly'. At last he feels compassion for another: 'The one I loved should be let live. He should live on after me, blameless'. But he knows this is impossible. When he dies, both he and his observing self die - and even as he crosses the Styx he cannot resist a glimpse of himself in the water. But at the moment of his death he is transformed - metamorphosed - into a beautiful flower. To this day, the Narcissus, with its evanescent delicate trumpet and seductive fragrance, is a tribute to Tiresias' prescience.

Tiresias, like a good psychotherapist, knew that if we are to survive psychologically, we must outgrow our narcissism. If we can accept our own transience and mortality, then we can be transformed - our self-esteem will be secure and we will be blessed with an inner beauty. If not, we are condemned to a living or actual death, perhaps at our own hands, as our narcissism grows ever more demanding and insistent. We will grow a thick skin over the vulnerability which has made us shy away from relationships. Loving only ourselves we envy those who can relate to others, and do our damnedest to destroy them, using our beauty as a weapon....

Hughes, Ted (1997) Tales from Ovid London: Faber and Faber

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Literary Narcissism and the Manufacture of Scandal

Ever since reading THE GREAT NAROPA POETRY WARS this summer, I have been thinking about narcissism in letters, alcoholism, Allen Ginsberg's substance abuse -- and how that book clearly shows that, though he would never fess up to it, Ginsberg was interested in the purposeful manufacture of Outrage, the politics of scandal and what might be called an Economy of Attention. I think too of other scandalists involved in a kind of ritual bondage of the Self -- whether the fewer famous ones, such as Pound, Eliot, Berryman -- or the many less famous ones, ephemera, bound up in Self but bound for the dustbin. Seems to be mainly a male phenomenon.

With the advent of listserves and then blogging, have we seen a spate of scandalmongering in the poetry world? Seems to be happening a lot recently.

1. A Literary Narcissist's behavior will not only tolerate but encourage attacks on himself so long as it can translate his own self-fascination into more news of himself.

2. Just as the Narcissist will use argument, catastrophe, disputation to attract attention, certain people will be willing to dispute the Narcissist in order to participate in the economy of attention. Others will dispute the Narcissist because they are so profoundly appalled by his/her behavior. Either way, the economy of attention is fueled.

3. The Narcissist needs Catastrophe. The more internal crises of shame the Narcissist endures and fails to heed, the more s/he will need to create external Catastrophes. A chief and signal way a Narcissist might attract attention is to start fights: Narcissists will gravitate toward satire and caricature as a means of creating argument. The Narcissist will attempt to construe strife with health: "These arguments need to happen," etc.

4. The Narcissist IS fascinating -- but not for the reasons the Narcissist thinks. S/he is fascinating because the energy s/he will expend in micromanaging the self image is so profoundly exceptional. People just sort of stand there slack-jawed wondering if this person has a life. The Narcissist however will mistranslate the fascination of others as admiration.

5. Poetry communities will tolerate narcissism so long as it is translated into a Social Energy which others can use to strengthen and promote their projects.

6. Narcissism and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a systematic way to push down socially regulating emotions like shame, guilt, and embarrassment at one's own self-aggrandizing behavior. The suppression of these emotions is never successful, even in the most energetic of self-aggrandizers, and they will periodically burst upward into brief displays of remorse and convictions to change. These brief spouts of regulatory behavior are sometimes shared publicly and sometimes privately among confidants. These displays however can often easily be "re-used" by the Narcissist as a way of showing his/her authenticity and emotional fealty to the community.

7. The Narcissist is aware of the economy of disgust surrounding his/her behavior. S/he becomes more and more sensitive to this and consequently begins to demand private declarations of loyalty from those people whom s/he knows consider themselves friends -- even if they have said nothing publicly against the Narcissist.

8. The Narcissist, aware of this disgust, will create a personal mythos in which s/he will be justified and exonerated by the rewards of literary "history." The stronger the disgust of others, the greater the energy used to maintain the mythos of exoneration by "history."

9. Narcissists are only interested in community so long as it pays dividends to their energy: they will support it if it feeds them.

10. The narcissist may outright demand in private that you "pay him" publicly with praise. Then he or she will publicly repay you with a communal mention.

11. In their attempt to cause others to adopt their self-fascination, Narcissists will become increasingly paranoiac, constantly searching the environment and community for news of themselves, for fealty or disloyalty.

12. The Literary Narcissist begins purposefully to conflate criticism of his social behavior into an indication of his/her literary worth. That is to say, the Narcissist will try to show that the reason others despise or are disgusted by him is in fact because he or she is a "Rebel," a true Literary "Revolutionist" -- and that the statements of disgust others publicly make at his behavior is merely an indication of (a) their necessary denial of the work because they are threatened by it, or (b) their jealousy of the work.

13. There comes a point -- and the point may come early -- where the community thinks to itself "teapot" and the Narcissist still hears "tempest." The truly insular narcissist (aka "the boor") will be met more and more with shunning, ignoring and silence. This will wrest the narcissist from his insularity -- such that he will begin another project designed to create Genuine Interest instead of mere scandalous attention. This project, like a new comet's head, will be followed by a long tail of manufactured scandal so as to call attention to its presence in the literary sky.

Gabriel Gudding

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grandiosity Without Self Respect

Narcissism is, in many ways, a failure of self respect. Could anything be more ironic?

This is what I mean.

When a little child wants a toy that another child is enjoying, she demands it, telling herself that SHE must be the one to have it because SHE is important and that other child isn't.

That's a little rationalizer learning the art.

Now, how does she go about getting that toy?

Answer: any way she can. She may grasp at it and physically fight for it. She may scream and bawl and carry on as though that other child is killing her by simply not going without things to give Brat whatever she wants. She will make such an obnoxious racket that no one can stand it, and adults may even snap at the other child, telling her to give Brat what she wants so that she will shut up and they all can have some peace.

You see, Brat isn't above degrading herself that way. She is just a little child, at the age before children have any self respect. Nothing is beneath them at that age. Because they are very little people in a world of giants.

Soon they develop a personality and sense of personhood and gain some self respect. By the age of seven they are already above stooping to certain things. They would rather go without them than make screaming meemies of themselves just to get those things.

But the budding little narcissist never gets there. She never gains enough self respect to keep her from doing the most degrading things to get what she wants.

Even animals are sometimes better. One reason I love Cairns is because these terriers won't prostitute themselves to you for a treat. They get offended if they catch on that you are trying to train them to do tricks for treats, and they sulk off as if to say, "Take that treat and shove it, babe. I ain't prostituting myself to you for a treat."

Not that they're untrainable. But you have to make them want to do your trick to show off to you how smart and grand they are. They will study your every move and try to discern what you're trying to communicate to them, so they can do it for you just to make you "Ooooh!" and "Ahhhh!" But the moment they sense that it's manipulation instead of a game, their pride gets hurt.

Hard to believe, ain't it? Dogs have more self respect than malignant narcissists. There are things a dog is too proud to do, but not a malignant narcissist.

A narcissist will do anything to get what she or he wants - ANYTHING: scream, act crazy, carry on like it's the end of the world, act too stupid to know how stupid they're being, stomp their feet like a Drama Queen, hit, kick, sulk, bust things, blather a wall of flak that doesn't even make sense - anything to get you to give in and give the brat whatever he or she wants. They have no self respect. Nothing is beneath them.

Kathleen Krajco

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Living with a true narcissist is difficult

True narcissists behave as if the
world revolves around them.
Among their traits, they believe
they are special and superior to
others. They can be physically
or emotionally abusive to others
and do not understand how their
negative behaviors bother others.

Coping Techniques may help

Imagine living with a person who is controlling of all aspects of your life and who does not take responsibility for mistakes. Holding a person emotionally hostage or physically controlling a situation are hallmarks of a narcissist.

One person who lived with a narcissist described being pinned between two cars while the driver revved the engine. If his foot had slipped off the brake, she would have been crushed. The narcissist did not cause any harm - so he didn't see the problem. This feeling that nothing bad can ever happen to him, that he is in complete control and that he is special are also common with a narcissist.

Personality disorders can affect the person who has the disorder as well as those who live with that person. Although most people have aspects of their personality that can be frustrating and hard to live with, a person who usually has the personality traits described above is said to have narcissistic personality disorder.

Different from a psychosis, a personality disorder is a way of thinking and behaving, said Charles Michels, M.S.W., a clinical social worker at the Counseling Center of Marshfield Clinic Lakeland Center. "This is a pattern that develops over time," he explained. "It's a way of thinking or behaving that deviates from the what's normal for a person's culture."

People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to be grandiose and believe they are special, Michels said. "They want to be around people who they deem as special as they are," he explained. Those with narcissistic personality disorder also tend to have little empathy and they can't understand how their actions bother others, he continued.

About 1 percent of the population is believed to have narcissistic personality disorder - most often men, but some women are affected. Although people with narcissistic personality disorder rarely seek treatment for their problems, those who live with or love them often do. "These people with narcissistic personality disorder are high maintenance," Michels said. "They tend to take advantage of people."

Many narcissists are abusive, either physically or emotionally, Michels said. "It's very tough to live with a true narcissist. But a lot of people have narcissistic tendencies. There are some ways to cope with that. If a person is not abusive, it is possible to cope with the narcissist, although it can be a struggle."

One way to help the non-narcissist is assertiveness training, Michels said. "Feeling confident about where you are at would help," he explained. "Being able to hold your ground in a discussion and not have a war. If the narcissistic partner is willing to change, to try new things, that can be beneficial."

Narcissists do seek therapy during crises in their lives, Michels said. But because the results are slow and they may feel nothing is "wrong" with them, they do not tend to stick with it long enough to make significant change. "There is either a crises event in their lives, or their partner drags them to therapy," Michels said.

Because they believe they are "special" narcissists tend to believe nothing bad will happen to them, Michels said. "They exhibit many traits of young children, around whom the world revolves, or teenagers, who think they are immortal. Most of the time, adults realize bad things can happen. We take precautions; we drive carefully, for example. Narcissists never come to that realization. They take risks because they don't see the outcome as being a question."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Are You Involved With a Narcissistic Person?

by Thomas J. Schumacher

According to the American Psychological Association, people with narcissistic personality disorder display a chronic and pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The Greek myth has it that Narcissus died enraptured by the beauty of his own reflection in a pool and feel forever in love with his own reflection. The Narcissist displays an operating style that involves extreme self-involvement, and a grandiose sense of self- importance. They exaggerate their achievements and talents, expecting others to recognize them as superior and often appearing arrogant and extremely self absorbed.

Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or beauty, they require the constant attention and admiration of those around them, although they are very choosy about the people and institutions they will associate closely with. They often admit to being snobs and are actually proud of it. They also believe that their problems are unique and can be appreciated only by other “special” high - status people. Despite their charm, the favorable first impression they make, and their wide circle of notable acquaintances, people with this disorder are rarely able to maintain a stable, long-term relationship. With their boastful and pretentious manner, narcissistic persons are seldom receptive to the feelings of others. They show a general lack of empathy, an inability or unwillingness to recognize and identify with your thoughts and needs. Many are often successful, impressively knowledgeable, and articulate, yet bored and doubt ridden as well.

Conversely, healthy narcissism is essential for emotional well-being. We need narcissism to feel confident in ourselves, and to give adequate consideration to others. NOTE: The healthy narcissist does not focus exclusively on themselves, demanding that the world reflect back their false manufactured sense of self and an image of idealized perfection.

If you encounter this personality type, a grasp of the underlying psychology can help you cope more effectively. Lets explore the genesis of the narcissistic personality. As stated above, people with this personality disorder must constantly seek outside support and approval. If they get that support and approval, they feel complete and powerful. Without that support and approval, they feel deprived, exposed, vulnerable, angry, and lonely.

KEY: Early childhood conditioning also plays a part. The child’s real or authentic self has generally been ignored, or the child’s self may have been attacked and assaulted while the parents placed demands on the child to be “perfect.” When that occurs, the type of behavior we associate with a narcissistic disorder is overindulged. Fiercely driven to achieve, children never develop the capacity to consider others’ needs. Enter adulthood, and the same traits naturally carry over.

What To Watch Out For

Most people with this disorder advertise themselves… They seek to be the center of attention. In search of constant approval and praise to reinforce their false grandiose sense of self, they’re “on- stage,” dominating the conversation, often exaggerating their importance.

They lack empathy for others and have an inflated sense of entitlement, requiring others to respond to their demands and grant favors. They need everything for themselves and are envious of others’ accomplishments and possessions.

Criticism or disapproval takes them back to their difficult childhoods, sending them into a defensive fury, since any flaw or mistake means they’re not perfect. Also, when things go wrong, they cannot acknowledge the imperfections implicit in accepting responsibility.

Appearance matters more than substance. Power, wealth and beauty bolster their fragmented self-image.

They may be extremely driven because the “narcissistic fuel” of outside approval is so essential. Many are workaholics. Warning: this personality disorder may not be immediately obvious. The subtle ones won’t show their true colors until “deprived.” Caution: Others may actually pursue and cater to you, if you have something they want, such as looks, money, or status.

Can you change them? Reality check: No. Even constructive criticism is experienced by them as an affront and is met with anger and a sense of betrayal. Placating only results in more demands, not a return of thoughtfulness and consideration. In fact, if you always excuse or rationalize self-absorption and give in to constant demands, you are actually supporting and reinforcing their narcissistic needs and wants.

Coping Tips

Here are some tips on how to cope with the person in your life who processes the narcissistic style. Sometimes the best way to deal with extreme narcissistic behavior is to end the relationship. But since this solution isn’t always possible, I can only offer you some survival techniques…

It is important to set boundaries. Decide which demands you can meet or how much approval you’re willing to give to this person, and then stick to your decision. Also, terminate a self-centered conversation if you can, or at least set a time limit on how long you’ll listen.

Support yourself. If your resistance to them draws their anger or blame, refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. Remember that your time and feelings are not important in this person’s eyes. This can help remove your guilt.

Use bargaining chips. If you have something they want, such as a special expertise or solutions to problems—share it sparingly to keep their worst behavior under control. Be aware that when you no longer satisfy them, their old ways will resurface.

Avoid anger. Any confrontation should be conducted quietly and with control. But even a tactful approach may be greeted with anger or sometimes-frightening rage. Very likely, you’ll hear that the difficult situation is your problem and there’s something wrong with you. Arguing will only make you feel like you will want to blow your brains out. Be careful not to expect accommodation from the other person, but do give yourself points for standing up for your rights.

Finally, know when to leave. Dealing with this personality disorder can undermine your own sense of self. Ask yourself some questions…Do I continually feel depressed, irritable, devalued and worthless? Does my anger and resentment carry over into other relationships? Have I stopped supporting myself in general, not treating myself well or allowing others to coerce me? Bottom line: If you find yourself answering yes too frequently, you must examine the pay-off or importance of your relationship with this person.

Dr. Thomas J. Schumacher is a pshychotherapist who specializes in individual, couple, and marital counseling. He maintains practices in New York City and Long Island..

Friday, November 09, 2007

Factors Enabling Narcissism To Sabotage Sustainability

How do these developmental and genetic factors which become dominant aspects of both individuals' and groups' consciousness and behaviors interfere with efforts at sustainability? The narcissistic defense seeks to dominate every space in which it participates – both on individual and group levels. This force of narcissism is interested in, committed to, and obsessed with power and control, and it will sacrifice people and resources indiscriminately. The narcissistic defense interferes by stonewalling, intimidating, and dominating attention in group settings.

NARCISSISM is distinguished from true leadership (which shares attention) by narcissism’s use, abuse and exploitation of people, as opposed to enhancing and facilitating the value of others. Sustainability is dependent on collaborative, mutually complementary group efforts that seek to maximize benefits for the largest amount of people without exploiting each other or the integrity of the environment. This is offensive to narcissism because it is in direct contradiction to narcissism’s values of dominance, exploitation and control.

So what does narcissism do in the presence of sustainability proponents? It resists. It resists in a methodical, calculated way toward the end of either distracting, derailing, or simply stopping whatever program the sustainability contingent is seeking to implement. Character assassination, misinformation, and blocking access to funding and other resources are commonly employed methods.

Before we discuss how narcissism can be detected and engaged effectively, it is important to review factors which contribute to narcissism being able to effectively control situations and relationships. First, if a person or a group is unaware of his or its narcissism, they will often be unable to recognize the presence of a narcissistic force. It is a well known dynamic in most psychological circles that if one is denying or cut off from an aspect of the self, it is very difficult position to recognize this aspect in others.

Second, many people have the fantasy that if they try hard, "do it right," be reasonable, logical, and have goodwill and a team approach, these factors will generate a positive outcome in interpersonal or group settings. This is about as deep a fantasy as one could possibly have, as it is not based in reality. Why is this? It is not based in reality because a narcissist survival is dependent on having control, or the perception of control. When a narcissist's control is challenged (and this is what efforts toward sustainability do by definition), he becomes threatened, and responds like his survival is at stake, transforming the environment into a veritable jungle. This is not the friendly environment of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood! In addition narcissism is disdainful of such attitudes (fantasies).

A third factor which reinforces the stranglehold narcissism can have is when people are committed to being "nice" or fair, and as a result are unwilling or unprepared to hold the narcissist accountable for positions or behaviors. Finally, an unwillingness to "go for the throat," as champions do in sporting events, only allows narcissism to recycle and feed off its commitment to domination.

Bruce Gregory, Ph.D

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Addictions and narcissism

Anyone can become addicted to just about anything but people with high levels of narcissism are particularly prone to addictions.

Nobody enjoys the feeling of being wrong, making mistakes, failing, losing, being criticized, ignored, rejected, or disregarded, but we endure it. And as unpleasant as it is, feeling bad about ourselves just as frequently results in change and improvement as unhappiness. Feeling bad can often lead to learning and growth.

Narcissists though cannot and will not tolerate feeling bad about themselves. Narcissism, by its very nature, is an obsession and a compulsion. The narcissist is addicted to the illusion of his superiority, power, and control. He must always feel good and feel good about himself. So, with his difficulty in postponing gratification, his disinclination for self-denial, and the power of his illusory, grandiose, self-image, the narcissist is susceptible to all sorts of obsessions, compulsions, and addictions.

Successful narcissists are invariably obsessed with their work, often to absurd degrees. Narcissists often also overuse or abuse alcohol, drugs, sex, or food, get hooked on shopping, sport, religion, or become obsessed with “love”, money, security, power, their health, (hypochondria is common), their appearance, or be adrenaline junkies chasing thrills. They invariably believe they are lucky, that they are life’s winners, and so are susceptible to gambling addiction. Multiple addictions are common as can be seen on any Saturday afternoon for example, in hotels and bars all around the country where many of the men who congregate are addicted to alcohol, nicotine, and gambling.

Narcissistic personalities are liable to become obsessed with or addicted to anything that:

* allows them to self medicate to numb pain, discomfort, or any unpleasant emotion.

* helps them escape their vulnerable real self and fears about illness, death, misfortune, or the unpredictability of life.

* can act as a symbol of their rebellion against other’s control or influence and help prove they are free and not controlled.

* helps them demonstrate that “I do as I please, whether you like it or not”.

* demonstrates they are thumbing their nose at normal social expectations to prove that they are superior to, and different from, other people.

* helps them gain acceptance from a group to which they want to belong.

* gives them an excuse or justification for bad behaviour so they can avoid responsibility for it.

* soothes them when they are not feeling “special”.

* satisfies a need for stimulation.

* helps them avoid awareness of their limitations, failures, and ordinariness.

* consoles them when they don’t get what they want.

* relieves boredom and helps fill an inner emptiness.

* makes them feel good (and what narcissist can say no to pleasure?).

* helps them escape into a worry, thought, and trouble free state.

* gives them the illusion of control.

* lets them withdraw from the stresses and demands of reality.

* makes them feel strong and powerful.

Ultimate Self

© 2007 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Black Ribbon Campaign

"Your ego is your own worst
enemy, and anybody
being nice to it is not
being compassionate to you."

- Ken Wilber

The problem is staring us in the face

According to a recent Population Reference Bureau study on cross-cultural neuroses, over 2.5 billion people around the world suffer from the same disease: narcissism. By late 2012, through the increasing trend of globalization, or what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls the “flattening” of the world, this epidemic may affect nearly every human being on the planet.

The plague is only growing. It’s time to find a cure.

What is narcissism?

Psychologists define it one way, spiritual teachers another. Here we define narcissism as the incessant self-infatuation displayed by the separate sense of self, or ego. In the classic Greek story of Echo and Narcissus, from which the term “narcissism” originates, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection. Ignoring the cries of Echo, his would-be friend and lover, he withered away as he admired himself reflected in the surface of a pond.

Detached, uncaring, isolated, and alone: this is the fate of all narcissists. Don’t let it happen to you.

Is it really such a big deal?

The world is in a state of crisis. Today, like never before, humanity faces serious threats to its continued existence on this planet. Global warming, religious terrorism, nuclear arms proliferation, incurable viral contagions, peak oil, unchecked bioengineering, environmental degradation, Paris Hilton, and the ever-present threat of killer asteroids may seem like big problems. But these problems get far bigger when no one has the mental space to deal with them—when 99% of everyone’s attention is focused, 24/7, on themselves.

So what can I do about it?

“If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it,” said the 20th-century spiritual master Ramana Maharshi, “you would be free.”

That’s sage advice. Here at the Black Ribbon Campaign, we’re committed to making such a freedom a reality—not only for the chosen few, the spiritual elites, but for millions of perfectly ordinary narcissists out there just like you. On this website you’ll find the tools and information you need to help yourself, your friends, and your family to overcome the scourge of endless self-concern. You’ll find the inspiration, the direction, and the subversive techniques required to begin spreading the word about this most egregious and debilitating dis-ease.

So wear the black ribbon with pride, and join us in our fight against ego everywhere.

Together, we can find a cure.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hot Teen Amateurs

The virtuous circle of narcissism and voyeurism that explains why blogs and user-generated content aren't getting any smaller

Hearing that someone doesn't read blogs is, for me, akin to hearing that someone doesn't drink coffee. That is, I can imagine how one could lead a perfectly acceptable and fulfilling life in the developed world in 2006 without drinking coffee, I just don't know why one would. Sure, you'll get by just fine without coffee, but if the option is (so readily) available and cost-effective, why not just treat yourself? Same deal with the blogs -- I mean, you're not really missing anything by not scanning blogs, but there's a lot of good stuff there, stuff that's certainly worth adding to your rotation.

I don't mean to sound like the haughty "I can't believe you're still living in the Dark Ages" tech geek. If anything, we're long through the looking glass w/r/t blogs and their user-generated content cousins/ derivatives. The newsweeklies ran their cover stories years ago, and Myspace has made the cover of Business Week. Folks can't get enough of blogging and, more generally speaking, sharing their thoughts, photos, videos, ideas, and everything else that they can digitize with the rest of the world on the Internet. Blogs, in their strictest sense, were just the start of what is a very real shift in both the way pop culture content is created and consumed. Why just write when you post pictures? Why just write and post pictures when you can also add your writing and pictures to communities and networks so that anyone with an inkling of an interest in any part of your writings and pictures can find them in just a couple clicks?

Thus we have the tens of millions of folks on blogger, Yahoo 360 and MSN Spaces. We have the millions of photos on flickr. And we've got a gazillion teenagers and college students sharing maybe a little bit too much information on Myspace and Facebook. (And this doesn't even get into the YouTubes of the world, as the bar for making a video is still slightly out of most folks' reach.)

It's easy to dismiss some of these sites as fads (certainly the social networking sites seem to be pretty fad driven; we miss ya, Friendster!), but it's borderline absurd to think that the general trend toward decentralized content creation and consumption is going to disappear. Nope. This stuff isn't going anywhere. If anything, it's only going to get bigger and bigger. And here's why:

User-generated content has captured the imagination of a culture that was already more than convinced that it is every individual's right, if not destiny, to someday enjoy fame and celebrity. We've long since treasured the legends of the actors or models who were "discovered" on a street corner or at a restaurant, or the authors who were toiling in obscurity before their big break ("You should see the closet where JK Rowling used to live!"). Over the past ten years, reality TV and the tabloid press have packaged and productized precisely the improbable ("I can't believe it all happened so fast!") march to fame that surely awaits us all.

The Internet has taken the existing overnight celebrity meme and lowered the cover charge (what economists call barriers to entry). Sure, you could write a novel, submit articles to magazines, or move to LA and become a struggling actress, but really, why bother? Look at Wonkette, Bill Simmons, and Jenn Sterger! All you need is access to a computer, and within minutes, you can launch your own amazing career!

This is not to say that everyone who writes a blog or posts photos of themselves online is dying to be famous. But there's certainly a fair degree of narcissism involved in sharing yourself with the world online. Look at me! I've got something to say! And of course, we've all heard the legends of the folks who pay the bills on their monthly AdSense revenues -- if not fame, it sure would be nice to quit the day job. But even if you don't become famous or even get to quit your day job, blogging/ posting does offer a daily dose of positive reinforcement. That is, the nice thing about the Internet is that it's easy to keep score: you can see just how many people looked at your blog, your myspace profile, or your flickr photos. And every time you see your numbers go up ("I'm so clever!"; "I'm so pretty!"), you get just the encouragement you need to continue ("If there are people out there interested in me, I better keep givin' 'em the good stuff!").

But that brings up the other side of the equation: who the hell would want to read a stranger's boring diary or look at their vacation photos? I don't know these people; why would I care? Certainly there's a strong argument to be made for user-generated content being the ultimate niche content. That is, since it's so easy to publish online, tiny little interest segments will have their very own content -- and a built-in niche audience armed with a search engine. Thus, I post on F.C. Camena just in case there are other people out there who also watch a lot of soccer and can't get enough of Winning Eleven.

But the explosion in user-generated content is about more than connecting tiny little communities and niche interest groups; that only gets you so far. There's a much simpler answer to the explosion of the online community sites (the myspaces and xanga's of the world): voyeurism. People like to watch. Trained by reality TV, e-commerce and broadband porn, we have a generation that's completely comfortable surfing page after page of profiles/ blogs -- the photos and blurbs that are essentially ads for people. We like peering into other people's lives, and the Internet offers an essentially endless supply of folks who want us to look at them. So we click. We look. We read. We click again. Why not? Who knows what we might find? Don't cost nuthin. We click again.

Essentially, what we have is a virtuous circle, where narcissism leads us to share ourselves online, which is eagerly gobbled up by a voyerusitic culture, a culture which demonstrates its approval of the narcissists by clicking and looking, which in turn encourages even more narcissism ("Look at all those clicks! I better post more photos!").

This is what's convincing millions to blog, and also what's encouraging the teenagers to post compromising photos on myspace. If you want those clicks, you're going to need to lure the voyeurs. And if you want to lure the voyeurs, you're going to need to do something to break through the clutter. And who knows -- maybe fame and fortune await!

This is all a long way of saying that you shouldn't expect this user-generated content thing to disappear. If anything, just wait until everyone's blog and myspace page contains video as well (like, say, when they put a video camera in your mobile phone). So it's not going anywhere. Not so long as there is suficient narcissism and voyeurism lurking in Western culture, and I think we've got that one covered.